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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): No specific consultation was undertaken prior to the decision to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board, as views on the future of the board have been well known for many years, in particular those of the National Farmers' Union and Unite which represent employers and workers on the board. We intend to discuss with interested parties practical approaches to wage-setting in agriculture in the absence of the board and how workers can be best informed of their contractual rights after it has been abolished.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of recent research by Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini and Professor Andres Carrasco and their teams relating to damage to health arising from the use of Roundup in genetically modified crop cultivation.[HL2901]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Professors Seralini and Carrasco and their collaborators have published a number of papers relating to glyphosate.
The Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) of the Health and Safety Executive routinely monitors relevant published literature relating to pesticides. Where there are any issues of regulatory relevance the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) is asked for its opinion.
Many of these papers have been assessed through the routine monitoring process with the conclusion that regulatory action was not required. A number of recently published studies are currently under consideration.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether HM Treasury or the Financial Services Authority monitor "Best Buy" league tables for retail deposit accounts as a potential indicator of risk and whether the FSA is required to seek reassurance that banks relying on deposits gathered through their appearance on such tables are engaging in sound commercial practices.[HL2474]
In addition, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) monitors the liquidity of UK deposit-takers through regular reporting from and dialogue with firms, and, as part of this, uses "Best Buy" tables as one indicator of retail funding risk.
The FSA sees retail funding risk as one of the main sources of liquidity risk for UK deposit-takers, and this is a key area that is monitored by the FSA as part of its continuing supervision of the liquidity of UK deposit-takers and the sustainability of their business models.
A monthly "Best Buy" table is widely circulated across FSA supervisors to help inform their discussions with firms. "Best Buy" tables may, for example, be used to question firms on the aggressiveness or, conversely, the lack of competitiveness in their retail deposit raising.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The special liquidity scheme (SLS) is a Bank of England scheme. The drawdown period for the SLS closed on 30 January 2009. The Bank announced at the end of September that of the £185 billion Treasury bills initially advanced, some £57 billion has already been repaid.
More information on the SLS is available on the Bank's website at www.bankofengland.co.uk/markets/s1s/index.htm.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The supervision of individual institutions and system-wide regulatory requirements are determined by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), an independent body. Following the onset of the financial crisis the FSA implemented the so-called '4-6-8' capital regime. This requires UK banks to hold at least 4 per cent of core tier 1 capital.
At an international level, the Group of Central Bank Governors and Heads of Supervision, the oversight body of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, recently delivered a historic and crucial set of reforms that will substantially increase financial stability. Following the G20 agreement in Toronto, regulation will be strengthened only once the recovery is assured. To this end an extended implementation period to 2019 will ensure the transition to new standards, including higher capital and liquidity requirements, will not jeopardise the economic recovery. These reforms will be implemented within the EU by amending the capital requirements directive.
As part of the transition period we negotiated in the Basel package, we do not expect the FSA to lower bank capital requirements. UK banks have already made particularly good progress, having raised their average core tier 1 ratios to the highest level in more than a decade. Analysis by the tripartite authorities suggests the transition to higher regulatory standards will be manageable for UK banks.
In order to ensure the flow of credit to businesses, the Chancellor announced a number of proposals at the Budget in June 2010. These include increasing the Enterprise Finance Guarantee by £200 million to enable additional lending of up to £700 million for small businesses until 31 March 2011 and the launch of a new Enterprise Capital Fund, to provide an extra £37.5 million in equity finance for small businesses with high growth potential.
The Government have also published a Green Paper on business finance in July, to help inform and take forward their agenda on credit and other sources of finance for businesses. This paper discussed the current conditions of bank lending to small and medium sized businesses. Further information about the Green Paper is available here: http://www.bis.gov.uk/businessfinance. The consultation period for the Green Paper closed on 20 September and the Government will comment on responses in due course.
In response to the Government's Green Paper on business finance, the British Bankers' Association has recently published the outcomes of its business finance taskforce, which was written in conjunction with the six major UK banks. The taskforce banks have committed
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In order to ensure better access to finance, the taskforce banks have agreed to establish and invest in a new £1.5 billion Business Growth Fund, which will provide capital to growing businesses. The taskforce has also announced that it would support the Government Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme, which supports lending to viable businesses with insufficient collateral and track record. Through awareness raising campaigns and other measures, the taskforce has also committed to help mid-sized businesses access syndicated debt markets and to improve access to trade finance.
Further information is available at http://www.bba. org.uk/media/article/business-finance-taskforce.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps have been taken to promote bank lending to small and medium-sized businesses in the United Kingdom and what assessment they have made of those steps.[HL2562]
Lord Sassoon: In March 2010, Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) agreed to legally binding lending commitments. These commitments will see both banks lend a total of £94 billion to businesses on commercial terms, over the 12 months to February 2011.
At the Budget in June 2010, the Chancellor announced proposals to help ensure the flow of credit to businesses. These include increasing the Enterprise Finance Guarantee by £200 million to enable additional lending of up to £700 million for small businesses until 31 March 2011 and the launch of a new Enterprise Capital Fund, to provide an extra £37.5 million in equity finance for small businesses with high growth potential.
The Government published a Green Paper on business finance in July, to help inform and take forward their agenda on credit and other sources of finance for businesses. This paper discussed the current conditions of bank lending to small and medium sized businesses.
Further information about the Green Paper is available at: http://www.bis.gov.uk/businessfinance. The consultation period for the Green Paper closed on 20 September and the Government will comment on responses in due course.
In response to the Government's Green Paper on business finance, the British Bankers' Association has recently published the outcomes of its business finance taskforce, which was written in conjunction with the six major UK banks. The taskforce banks have committed to improving customer relationships through a new lending code, ensuring better access to finance and promoting better understanding.
In order to ensure better access to finance, the taskforce banks have agreed to establish and invest in a new £1.5 billion business growth fund, which will provide capital to growing businesses. The taskforce has also announced that it would support the government Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme, which supports lending to viable businesses with insufficient collateral and track record. Through awareness-raising campaigns and other measures, the taskforce has also committed to help mid-sized businesses access syndicated debt markets and to improve access to trade finance.
Further information is available at: http://www.bba. org.uk/media/article/business-finance-taskforce.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the National Audit Office will have full access to audit the accounts of the BBC as announced by the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport on 22 September.[HL2686]
Baroness Rawlings: The Government are committed to giving the National Audit Office (NAO) full access to the BBC's accounts to ensure transparency. The Government announced on 22 September that they had reached agreement with the BBC Trust on the NAO having full access to the BBC's accounts.
Under the terms of the BBC's charter, it is the responsibility of the BBC Trust to ensure that the BBC delivers value-for-money to licence fee payers. The BBC should be prepared to defend all its expenditure decisions.
|Table 1 : Number of children1 taking up early education places2|
|Position in January each year|
|Year||Number of children||Increase from Previous year||Percentage increase from previous year|
The table presented in this answer includes private, voluntary, and independent providers, as well as maintained nursery and primary schools and special schools. Table 1 of the "Provision for children under five years of age in England: January 2010" Statistical First Release, available on the department's website (http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000935/index.shtml) provides a time series of the figures broken down by type of provider.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 28 July (WA 389), what evidence they have of it being good practice in the wider economy to provide higher rates of payments for those who take voluntary redundancy than for those being made compulsorily redundant; and what evidence they have that this ensures the retention of the right civil staff.[HL2667]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Allowing higher levels of voluntary payments allows for earlier exits and therefore savings to the Exchequer. It also minimises the number of compulsory redundancies which need to be made, which is an objective of this Government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the capacity of the Citizens Advice Bureaux to take over the functions of Consumer Focus; and whether this assessment will be made available.[HL2873]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): In a Written Ministerial Statement on 14 October, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced changes to the UK consumer and competition bodies.
BIS is now discussing implementation with the consumer bodies including Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland and with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments. As also announced by the Secretary of State, BIS will consult publicly on the main elements of the proposals in the new year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to introduce new powers to enable the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority to pursue offenders to recover funds by means of making regulations to implement the compensation recovery powers under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004. [HL2824]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): I will be considering the issues involved in implementing the right to recovery legislation as part of a wider review of the reparation that offenders can make to victims.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence considers the Citizens Council's recommendations Deviating from the threshold, relating to the assessment of the cost-effectiveness of new treatments for ultra-orphan diseases.[HL2909]
In January 2009, NICE issued supplementary advice to its appraisal committees on the appraisal of life-extending end-of-life drugs. In developing the advice, NICE took account of the Citizens' Council's views on the circumstances in which it may be appropriate to recommend a treatment where the cost per quality adjusted life year is above the normal threshold range.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government do not keep statistics on prosecutions for breaches of election law in England and Wales. The figures cited below are extracted from reports prepared by the Electoral Commission rather than from central government records. Accordingly, those reports do not necessarily constitute a complete record of the number of prosecutions during the period referred to.
With regard to the General Election of 2005, the Electoral Commission's report Allegations of electoral malpractice in England and Wales 2000-2006 gives details of allegations of electoral malpractice in relation to offences under the Representation of the People Act (RPA) 1983 during that period. The report found that in 2005, there were 59 allegations.
The Electoral Commission's report Further analysis of CPS files on allegations of electoral malpractice in England and Wales 2000-2006 gives details of prosecutions for electoral malpractice under the RPA 1983 during that period. The report found that there was one conviction in 2005, though noted that convictions do not necessarily occur in the same year that proceedings are initiated. Though statistics are not recorded on prosecutions brought under common law fraud offences in England and Wales, I am aware that subsequently five people were convicted under the common law offence of conspiracy to defraud at the 2005 General Election in the Bradford West constituency and all received a custodial sentence.
With regard to the Scottish Parliament election of 2007 and the Scottish local government elections of 2007, I understand that there have been no prosecutions for fraud under the RPA 1983. When bringing common law fraud charges, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Scotland cannot differentiate between
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With regard to the Welsh Assembly election of 2007, and local government elections in England in 2007, the Electoral Commission's report Electoral malpractice in England and Wales-2007 trends found that at the 2007 elections 129 allegations of electoral malpractice were recorded in England and Wales. I am aware that subsequently six people were convicted of committing a number of electoral offences at the May 2007 local government elections in Slough and all received a custodial sentence. Charges that were brought against some of these six individuals also included the common law offence of conspiracy to defraud.
At elections in 2008, 2009 and 2010 there was systematic monitoring by the Electoral Commission and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) of allegations of electoral malpractice reported to the police during the election period.
With regard to local government elections in England and Wales in 2008, the Electoral Commission and ACPO report Allegations of electoral malpractice at the May 2008 elections in England and Wales found that one case led to prosecution, which resulted in the conviction of one person on a charge of making a false application to vote by proxy and a fine of £1,015.
With regard to the European elections of 2009 and local government elections in England in 2009, the Electoral Commission and ACPO report Analysis of allegations of electoral malpractice at the June 2009 elections found that two people pleaded guilty to three charges of false registration and other non-electoral fraud charges in Bournemouth, and each received a sentence of one month's imprisonment for the registration offences. The commission found that, in mid-December 2009, one person pleaded guilty to two charges of personation at the European parliamentary and local government elections in Cannock, and was sentenced to four months in prison. The commission's report also provided updated information about the outcome of allegations of fraud at the May 2008 elections. The report found that a further two cases relating to the May 2008 elections had led to charges or prosecutions meaning that three cases in total relating to the May 2008 elections had led to charges or prosecutions. The first additional case resulted in two people pleading guilty to personation at a polling station, and were both given the maximum community service order penalty of 300 hours. In the second additional case, charges were brought against one person for two false applications to vote by proxy. This person has now been found guilty and was sentenced in August 2010 to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months.
With regard to local government elections in England in 2010, the Electoral Commission has indicated that it will publish verified data and analysis on the extent and nature of cases of electoral malpractice reported during 2010, including the May 2010 UK General Election and local government elections, in January 2011. This will include an update on any unresolved cases that were previously reported and unresolved.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure proper oversight of the health of staff in the nuclear industry after the abolition of the Health Protection Agency; and what consultations they have had with management and staff on this matter.[HL2756]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Under health and safety law, it is the responsibility of operators of nuclear facilities to ensure that the health and safety of their employees is safeguarded. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides advice and guidance to nuclear operators, and other employers, to assist them in this task. HSE can also take appropriate enforcement action to secure compliance with health and safety law.
The Health Protection Agency provides an integrated approach to protecting UK public health. The agency provides support and advice to HSE on radiation protection matters. The Government have announced that, on abolition of the agency, its functions will be transferred to the new Public Health Service.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to instruct the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency to look into the re-use of spent nuclear waste rather than burying it, given recent rises in the world price of uranium.[HL3001]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): It is for the owners of spent nuclear fuel to decide whether or not to reprocess it in order to recover reusable nuclear materials. There are, however, some technological constrains and spent fuel from MAGNOX reactors is reprocessed because there is currently no alternative means of dealing with it.
The NDA also has existing commercial contracts with both overseas and UK reactor operators to reprocess other spent fuel through THORP. The NDA will continue to manage these contracts taking into account the most appropriate use of the existing plant and their resources.
In the case of new nuclear the plans are still as set out in the 2008 White Paper on nuclear power and are, "any new nuclear power stations that might be built in the UK should proceed on the basis that spent fuel will not be reprocessed and that plans for, and financing of, waste management should proceed on this basis".
Government are not currently expecting any proposals to reprocess spent fuel from new nuclear power stations, but should such proposals come forward in the future, we would consider them on their merits at the time.
It is also worth noting that the price of uranium is only a small factor in the overall running costs of a nuclear power station and by itself might not be enough of a concern for reactor operators to consider reprocessing an economical option. However, the Government intend to keep this issue under review with the NDA.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will seek legal advice about which matters complained of in the European Commission's Reasoned Opinion 226, infringement number 2006/2450, remain in potential breach of EU directives following the enactment of the Equality Act 2010.[HL2764]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): There is an understanding that infringement proceedings are a confidential matter between the European Commission and member states. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment on this particular reasoned opinion. As a matter of routine, my department is able to draw on legal advice as and when necessary.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether London's competitiveness as a location for the central clearing of equity, bonds and derivatives will be disadvantaged by the lack of access to Euro funding from central banks; and, if so, what action they will take.[HL2629]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The UK hosts multiple clearing houses offering foreign currency denominated clearing including in euros. There is no obligation to have access to central bank liquidity in order to offer these clearing services and in all cases the Financial Services Authority requires that appropriate risk management controls are in place.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will ensure that (a) the European Union has a competitive market in securities and derivatives clearing, and (b) clearing houses based in the United Kingdom will not be subject to discretionary actions by other European Union countries.[HL2759]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In Europe, the bulk of the G20 policy agenda on post-trade infrastructure will be addressed through the proposed European Markets Infrastructure Regulation.
On 15 September the European Commission published a proposal for this regulation which covers issues relating to organisational and risk management standards for central clearing counterparties. The aim is to harmonise standards for clearing houses operating across Europe, allowing them to interoperate thus creating a competitive market for clearing services.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the practice of high frequency trading of equities as a potential risk to financial stability; and whether they will instruct the Financial Services Authority to initiate a review and produce a report.[HL2630]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave him on 16 June (Official Report, col. WA 115). Formal proposals for the revised markets in financial instruments directive are expected to be published by the European Commission in early 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 27 September (WA 535-6), how a member of the public can evaluate the contributions of Professor Douglass and of Bassin et al when there is no link from the references in South Central Strategic Health Authority's consultation document on water fluoridation to the free websites referred to in that answer.[HL2621]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): I remain of the view that the references quoted in the consultation document enable users of the internet to access the information needed to evaluate these contributions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government , further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 20 July 2009 (WA 278-9) and Baroness Thornton on 4 March 2010 (WA 272-3), whether in issuing revised guidance to the National Health Service about the evidence surrounding water fluoridation they will give due weight to the findings of the "York" systematic review in 2000 concerning potential health risks including dental fluorosis, and to publications about the study on the bioavailability of fluoride in water by the University of Newcastle that have appeared subsequently to its first report in 2004.[HL2622]
Earl Howe: Yes, we are planning to issue new guidance based on all the evidence now available after the outcome is known of the judicial review of South Central Strategic Health Authority's decision to fluoridate Southampton and parts of south-west Hampshire. We will be consulting interested organisations and individuals about the guidance including the noble Earl.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will launch a study to evaluate the differences between the dinner menu choices and relevant information provided in prisons and those provided in hospitals and residential care homes; and whether they will publish the results with comparative costs.[HL2793]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Making direct comparisons of food delivery and costs between different services is difficult and can often be misleading. This is because there are so many variances between what is provided and when, how it is served, the take-up rate, the population being provided for and what freedom consumers have in choosing alternative sources of meals.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what legal advice they have received concerning the interception of a British registered boat in International waters, when carrying Jewish people towards Gaza. [HL2585]
However, I can reassure the noble Baroness that we followed this incident closely, that our consular staff remained in regular contact with the families of those British Nationals on board and that we offered consular
26 Oct 2010 : Column WA258
Following the tragedy of the Mavi Marmara incident, when nine Turkish nationals were killed by Israeli security forces, we have repeatedly made it clear to Israel that it is a matter of grave concern that Israeli actions should have ended in such heavy and tragic loss of life.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of Operation Cast Lead on the health and education of children in Gaza; and what action they have taken or will take with European Union partners as a result.[HL2678]
Baroness Verma: UN agencies and non-governmental organisations have published a number of reports on the health of children in Gaza since Operation Cast Lead. These show that many children still suffer traumatic stress and that their health is compromised by declining public health service provision, unclean water and a lack of necessary micro-nutrients in food. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides education for 222,000 children in Gaza, reports that schools are overcrowded and children must attend in shifts.
Following Operation Cast Lead the UK Government spent £24.8 million on humanitarian assistance. This included the clearance of unexploded ordnance to allow children to return to school, counselling for traumatised children, the building of safe play areas, and improvement to services for pregnant women, new mothers and babies. UK funding also provided food aid and clean water for families in most need. We also provided £5 million to UNRWA specifically to improve education services in Gaza.
The UK and European Union (EU) are major donors to UNRWA. Our ongoing support to UNRWA's core budget helps provide food aid, social services, healthcare and education to refugees in Gaza and across the region. So far this year the UK Government have provided £19 million support. This has helped provide food aid to nearly 1 million Gazans; schooling for almost 480,000 children across the region, and primary healthcare to refugees across the region through 138 clinics with 9.5 million annual patient visits.
The UK and the EU continue to press Israel to allow reconstruction in Gaza and further to relax restrictions on movement and access into and out of Gaza. On 16 September the European Council called for full implementation of the measures to improve access announced by Israel in June and complementary measures, in order to achieve a fundamental change of policy that will allow for reconstruction and the economic recovery of Gaza.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking with the United States and other international partners to ensure faster progress on the implementation of approved and essential projects for improving sanitation and the state of polluted
26 Oct 2010 : Column WA259
Baroness Verma: The UK is funding the UN Access Co-ordination Unit (ACU) which works with the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and aid agencies to facilitate the transfer of goods into Gaza, including essential equipment and construction materials for sanitation networks. ACU works closely with the emergency water sanitation and hygiene group, which represents over 30 organisations working on water, sanitation and hygiene in the occupied Palestinian territories. In mid-September 250 tonnes of construction materials entered Gaza for the upgrade of the sewage treatment plant at Sheikh Aljin which will reduce the run-off of sewage into the Mediterranean Sea. The UK continues to press Israel and the Palestinian Authority to increase co-ordination and process applications the import of essential materials more quickly, in order to ensure further improvements to the Gazan sanitation system.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take with the quartet to ensure that spare parts and chemicals are made available, so that the water desalination plant at Khan Younis, near Gaza, can work at full capacity.[HL2733]
Baroness Verma: There are a number of actual or potential desalination projects in or near Khan Younis, including small privately-owned plants. We are not aware of any specific obstacles to their development and the Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR) has not raised the issue of supplies for desalination plants with the Government of Israel. We continue to work closely with the OQR, UN agencies and other partners to support improvements in access to Gaza for items for approved reconstruction projects, and all items not on the Government of Israel's list of prohibited imports.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of Scottish farmers winter their livestock in a controlled environment, and will not be affected by the nationwide clock change on 31 October or any other date. [HL2799]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made an assessment of any loss of income from the tourist and leisure industries between 25 October 2009 and 28 March 2010 due to the clock change to GMT and the subsequent onset of darker evenings.[HL2800]
The implications of a possible move to single double summer time remain under active consideration. The Prime Minister made clear in August this year that such a change can be considered only with the agreement of all parts of the United Kingdom including Scotland.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): If pay were frozen for the next four years, including progression increments, the cost would be the same as it currently is and there would be no net saving. The June Budget, in which the Chancellor announced the two year public sector pay freeze, exempted from the freeze staff earning less than a full-time equivalent salary of £21,000 who are to receive an annual salary increase of £250. This increases the pay bill slightly over the period.
Earl Attlee: The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) estimates that it could make net savings of approximately £1.09 million in its current pay bill if all salaries and increments are frozen over the next four years (2011-12 to 2014-15) and the current staff configuration remains unchanged over this period.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what number and percentage of Cabinet Office staff have received or are due to receive increments in pay in the year ended 5 April 2011; and what is the estimated
26 Oct 2010 : Column WA261
Eight per cent of staff, who earned £21,000 or less, received an increment in their pay in the year ending 5 April. The estimated percentage increase in the department's pay bill as a result of these awards is 0.05 per cent, which equates to an increase of approximately £50,000.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what number and percentage of Department of Health staff have received or are due to receive increments in pay in the year ended 5 April 2011; and what is the estimated percentage and money increase in the department's pay bill due solely to increments this year, disregarding promotions or general increases in pay scales. [HL2597]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): For the department, 2010-11 is the third year of a legally binding three-year settlement for staff below the Senior Civil Service (SCS). A two-year pay freeze for these staff will be entered in 2011-12. For the SCS, base pay was frozen in 2010-11.
Staff below the SCS received consolidated pay progression in 2010-11 in respect of performance in 2009-10, with the amount of consolidated progression dependent on position in the pay scale. Overall 2,347 non-SCS staff (87 per cent) received a consolidated increase in August 2010.
The total estimated increase in the department's pay bill for 2010-11 (including national insurance and pension contributions) arising from consolidated pay progression is £4,619,293. This represents a 3.04 per cent increase in the department's pay bill.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what number and percentage of Ministry of Justice staff have received or are due to receive increments in pay in the year ended 5 April 2011; and what is the estimated percentage and money increase in the Ministry's pay bill due solely to increments this year, disregarding promotions or general increases in pay scales. [HL2598]
The Ministry of Justice staff, below Senior Civil Service, received a pay award on 1 August 2010 in accordance with a multi-year pay award negotiated in 2007. As part of this award 8,556 staff received incremental progression. This represents 31 per cent of staff in the ministry.
The estimated percentage and money increase in the Ministry of Justice pay bill, excluding Senior Civil Service, solely due to increments for the year ending 5 April 2011, disregarding promotions or general increases, is 0.9 per cent and £6.5 million. This assumes no recyclables and is based on salary as at 31 July 2010.
The estimated percentage and money increase in NOMS pay bill solely due to increments for the year ending 5 April 2011, disregarding promotions or general increases in pay scales, is circa 2.5 per cent and circa £44 million. This assumes no recyclables, is based on 2009 pay scales and full-time equivalent staff as at March 2010.
The information above relates to staff in grades below the Senior Civil Service. For the Senior Civil Service, consolidated pay has been frozen in 2010-11 and no increments were/will be paid for the year ending 5 April 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated net saving in the pay bill of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills for each of the next four years if no bonuses are paid and all salaries and increments are frozen.[HL2681]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Following the spending review settlement for BIS, detailed workforce plans and pay bill allocations, on which such estimates would be based, are being developed and finalised. We are therefore currently unable to provide estimates of savings for the years in question.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated net saving in the pay bill of the Cabinet Office for each of the next four years if no bonuses are paid and all salaries and increments are frozen.[HL2682]
Any annual increase to pay bill cost in the department is governed by Her Majesty's Treasury's remit guidance and in collective negotiation with departmental trade unions. It is therefore not possible accurately to estimate any net saving to the Cabinet Office pay bill for future years.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many of their Ministers, officials and advisers travelled from Brussels on the 17:59 Eurostar on Thursday 16 September; which class of travel they used; and what was the total cost of the fares to and from Brussels.[HL2509]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Departments are committed to publishing on a quarterly basis details of their Ministers' overseas travel. Information for travel made in September will be published as soon as it is collated. Information in respect of civil servants, including special advisers, is not held centrally and to collect the information would involve disproportionate costs.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which organisations will represent the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities among the key stakeholders the Government will work with to take forward the implementation of the Concluding Observations of 2008 of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.[HL2615]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): In taking forward the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's concluding observations, the Government are working with a number of groups to address issues affecting Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. These include:the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Education Stakeholder Group-its membership has been drawn from representatives of all three communities working in the education sector and from community liaison groups. It includes parents, teachers, governors and a former director of children's services and is chaired by Lord Avebury. Its aim is to engage in awareness raising, changing attitudes and behaviours and supporting work to improve levels of ascription, attendance, transition and attainment to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils;the National Association of Teachers of Travellers and other professions (NATT+)-they were funded to arrange events in 2009-10 and again in 2010-11. The funding has enabled the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community groups to build their own capacity to source funding, and to plan and deliver the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller months themselves in future;
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the loss of independence of the Health Protection Agency when it is transferred into the Department of Health will have an impact on the trust placed in the agency by the public or professionals.[HL2748]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We do not anticipate a loss of trust or independence in the Health Protection Agency's present functions by the public or professionals.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have produced any data concerning the dosage of Norethisterone and Ethinylostradiol contained in the drug Primodos compared with the dosage given to patients.[HL2589]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to assess the needs of people adversely affected by the drug Primodos; how many people were left with disabilities after their mothers used this drug; and whether they will place in the Library of the House any documents they hold relating to the dangers posed by Primodos.[HL2590]
To ask Her Majesty's Government which drugs currently available in the United Kingdom contain Norethisterone and Ethinylostradiol; what are the known disabilities which have occurred in the children of users of drugs containing these constituents; and whether any warnings are given to those who take them.[HL2591]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will meet with members of the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests, people adversely affected by the drug Primodos, and with the pharmaceutical company, Bayer, to discuss the consequences for people adversely affected by the drug Primodos.[HL2592]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Primodos first became available in the United Kingdom in 1959 and was discontinued in 1978. Primodos was used as a hormonal pregnancy test and for the treatment of various gynaecological complaints.
The licensed dose of Primodos as a pregnancy test was one tablet on each of two consecutive days. Each Primodos tablet contained two sex hormones, a progestogen (norethisterone acetate, 10 milligrams) and an oestrogen (ethinylestradiol, 0.02 milligrams).
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has no information on the number of children who were born with disabilities to mothers who took Primodos during pregnancy. A total of three reports of suspected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in association with Primodos (spina bifida, cleft palate, congenital abnormality and pre-eclampsia) via the UK's Yellow Card Scheme are on the MHRA database. None of these cases reported the dose that was administered to the patient. As of 13 October 2010 the MHRA had received a total of 32 UK spontaneous "suspected" ADR reports associated with the combination of the drug ingredients norethisterone and ethinylestradiol (other than Primodos) which describe a congenital abnormality. These reports were received over a period of 45 years.
The former Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) advised on the safety of a number of hormonal preparations, including Primodos in 1975 and 1977. The CSM letters and the minutes from the CSM meeting have been placed in the Library. The advice of the CSM was that these hormonal preparations should not be indicated for, or promoted as, a pregnancy test; that a warning about a possible hazard in pregnancy should be inserted in all promotional literature; and that pregnant women should not use these products.
In the absence of any significant new scientific evidence that has become available since Primodos was discontinued, a meeting such as that suggested would be unlikely to benefit any of those concerned. Local clinicians and multidisciplinary teams assess the health and care needs of people who consider that they have been adversely affected by Primodos or other hormonal pregnancy tests. The MHRA therefore has no current plans to meet members of the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests, people suspected to have been adversely affected by the drug Primodos, or with the pharmaceutical company, Bayer.
A large number of medicines currently available in the UK contain norethisterone and ethinylestradiol. These are licensed for hormone replacement therapy, contraception, various gynaecological conditions and in the treatment of some cancers. When used for oral contraception the doses of norethisterone and ethinylestradiol are lower than Primodos. Norethisterone is also currently available as progestogen-only contraception. In common with all licensed medicines, warnings relating to potential side effects of medicines that contain norethisterone and ethinylestradiol are
26 Oct 2010 : Column WA266
Primolut N is one of the norethisterone-containing medicines currently available in the UK. Primolut N tablets are licensed for use in a range of gynaecological conditions and contain five milligrams of norethisterone, a progestogenic sex hormone. Advice and warnings relating to potential side effects of Primolut N are provided in the summary of product characteristics for health care professionals, and the patient information leaflet that accompanies each packet of medicine. As with all medicines used in the UK, the MHRA, together with advice from an independent advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines, keeps the safety of Primolut N under continuous review. The MHRA is not aware of any current safety issues with Primolut N.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress is being made in implementing the coalition's commitments to ensure that foreign healthcare professionals have passed robust language and competence tests.[HL2577]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): For European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, discussions are currently underway with the General Medical Council and the European Commission and other organisations concerning the issue of language competency. We are also exploring how the proposed National Health Service Commissioning Board might oversee a more effective system for undertaking checks on the language knowledge of primary care practitioners.
For overseas doctors from outside the EEA registration procedures including any checks on the language competency of a professional are a matter for relevant regulatory bodies, though employers are still able to satisfy themselves as to the individual's language skills.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the European Union Directive 2005/36/EC, Article 53, whether they have any plans to change the guidance supplied by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health to competent authorities, such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which prevents the assessment of language competency as a condition of registration to practise in the United Kingdom.[HL2578]
Earl Howe: The Government have no plans to change their guidance note on the implementation of Directive 2005/36/EC in the United Kingdom for health and social care professionals, which provides guidance to the healthcare regulatory bodies about the obligation placed on them by the directive, including the requirements of Article 53.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the English language skills of doctors from European Union countries are not assessed before they can practise in the United Kingdom whereas those of doctors from south Asian and Afro-Caribbean countries are.[HL2668]
Earl Howe: European law prevents language competency tests prior to registration of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. Doctors from South Asia and Afro-Caribbean countries are not covered by the relevant provisions (EU Directive 2005/36/EC) and therefore the registration procedures for migrants from South Asia and Afro-Caribbean are a matter for the General Medical Council.
An employer or a contracting authority should satisfy themselves of a candidate's skills and competencies, including their ability to communicate to the required standard for the post. Clear guidance has been issued to NHS bodies on this issue. This applies equally where a candidate is from the EEA.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government believe that stability in house prices is important for wider macroeconomic stability. The Government will continue to monitor housing market developments and form future policy accordingly. The Government will also work with the Bank of England to investigate including housing costs in the CPI measure of inflation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the United States' Commodity Futures Trading Commission to ensure that United Kingdom insurers and re-insurers are not affected by the CFTC's treatment of "booked out forward contracts".[HL2565]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The UK Government have not made any representations on the effect of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission treatment of booked out forward contracts as regards UK insurers and reinsurers. We have discussed the matter with industry and believe representations to be unnecessary at this time.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support a re-weighting of votes at the International Monetary Fund in favour of developing countries; if so, how they propose that the voting weight of European countries should be reduced; and whether they favour lowering the percentage of votes required to achieve a binding decision.[HL2699]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The UK Government fully support reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In particular, for the IMF to be legitimate in the eyes of all its members, it must be representative of the modern global economy. This means giving a greater say for the dynamic emerging markets and developing countries that are currently under-represented at the fund. All over-represented countries, including those in Europe, should contribute to this shift.
The UK would also support a review of the fund's current voting rules as part of a broader reform package. This should also include a greater role for Ministers in providing strategic guidance to the fund, a reconfiguration of the IMF's executive board and the implementation of an open, transparent and merit-based appointment process for the heads and senior leadership of all international financial institutions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with United States and European Union partners about requiring the Government of Israel to remove barriers to the importation of construction materials for internationally approved construction projects overseen by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, especially the eight UNRWA school projects currently unable to proceed. [HL2677]
Baroness Verma: I refer the noble Lord to my Written Answer of 18 October 2010 (Official Report, col. WA113). Since this date, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has reported that the Israeli authorities have withdrawn approval for another one of the eight new school projects, giving a total of four schools for which approval remains valid, and four from which approval has been withdrawn. UNRWA is working with the Israeli authorities to resolve this issue and expects that some of the materials required will begin to enter Gaza shortly.
The UK Government regularly discuss Gaza access issues with the United States and European Union partners. UK officials also pressed for early progress on UNRWA's school projects during the ad hoc liaison committee donor meeting on 21 September in New York. In response, Israeli officials reported that Israel had not delayed approval for the import of the necessary materials.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the size of Israeli closed military areas in the West Bank; and of their impact on access to water for the Palestinian population. [HL2732]
Baroness Verma: According to reports issued by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 18 per cent of the total area of the West Bank is closed for Israeli military use. We agree with OCHA's assessment that these restrictions exacerbate water shortages faced by Palestinians living in area C of the West Bank. Other causes include lack of rainfall in recent years, inadequate infrastructure and inequitable distribution of water resources.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what role they envisage for Local Improvement Finance Trusts (LIFT) companies, following the abolition of primary care trusts; and what steps they will take to ensure that the local knowledge, expertise and relationships built up by LIFT companies is harnessed through the new NHS structures.[HL2876]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department is currently examining primary and community estates issues, including Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) related considerations, arising from the White Paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS. Any necessary actions will be announced when they have been determined.
LIFT is a series of public-private partnerships between primary care trusts (PCTs) and private sector companies. Subject to parliamentary approval, PCTs are to be abolished from April 2013, and we are carefully examining the most appropriate arrangements for managing existing LIFT rights and obligations once this reorganisation has happened.
Through using the investment, innovation and creativity of the private sector, LIFT has provided very valuable support to the National Health Service in planning and modernising its property. The Government recognise this contribution and, in particular, the valuable expertise that private sector partners have brought to the programme.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they dissociated themselves from the consensus in the recent resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council on safe drinking water and sanitation,
26 Oct 2010 : Column WA270
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government regret that they had to dissociate from consensus on the recent UN Human Rights Council resolution on safe drinking water and sanitation.
The resolution recognised "the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation". The UK's position is that there exists a right to water as an element of the right to an adequate standard of living (Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), but that there is no basis in international law for recognising a human right to sanitation at this time. The Government believe that recognising rights without due international consideration of what they comprise creates unhelpful ambiguity. Individuals cannot know what they can legitimately claim from the state and the state has no clear understanding of the protection it is obliged to afford to the individual.
As part of their efforts to support achievement of the millennium development goals, the Government will prioritise aid spending on programmes to ensure that everyone has access to clean water and sanitation. However, the policy priority we attach to improving sanitation should not lead us to recognise a new legal right without due regard to the structure of international human rights law.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many former employees of the National Coal Board who worked only on the surface were compensated under the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease scheme as a result of (a) fraud and (b) administrative error.[HL3053]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The department is unable to confirm the number of surface worker only claims which have been compensated under the British Coal respiratory disease litigation, due to fraud or an administrative error, as no such claims have been identified through the department's internal and external audits. The department simply acknowledges that, given the number of claims processed through that scheme, it cannot rule out the possibility of claims having been paid as a result of fraud or an administrative error. However, should the department be advised of any claimswhich were registered under the BCRDL CHA;in which a miner only worked upon the surface of a mine; andin which compensation was paid
|£m||Total amount raised||Amount transferred to Olympics||Net amount available to non-Olympic good causes|
|£m||Proceeds from sale of dedicated Olympic lottery games||Amount transferred from the non-Olympic good causes||Total|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The current rules governing the sale of National Health Service assets will continue to apply to primary care trusts (PCTs) prior to their dissolution. Guidance on the disposal of NHS owned land and buildings is contained in Health Building Note 00-08: Estatecode, which has already been placed in the Library. In the majority of cases, where an NHS asset is surplus to requirements, it is sold at the best price reasonably obtainable in the market. This should protect the value of assets when disposals occur.
PCT property asset disposals are being held in abeyance while the department is currently examining the implications for the management and ownership of the estate following the dissolution of PCTs in 2013. An option appraisal of the various alternatives is being undertaken for consideration by Ministers. The outcome of this process will be announced shortly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what bonuses have been paid to the staff of the Northern Ireland Office in the last financial year; how many and what percentage of the staff received such payments. [HL2609]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: Non-consolidated performance payments in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) for 2009-10 were made to staff at Grades D2 to A and to staff in the Senior Civil Service in line with Cabinet Office and HM Treasury Guidance. 559 staff received non-consolidated performance payments, totalling £599,010, rewarding performance throughout the 2009-10 reporting year. This equates to approximately 28 per cent of eligible staff.
Under a separate scheme, special performance payments were also awarded to staff in the year 2009-10. 864 of staff received these payments, totalling £226,159. This equates to approximately 43 per cent of eligible staff.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the objective of the Political Section of the Northern Ireland Office; how many staff it has; and how much it cost in each of the past five financial years.[HL2608]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) was reconfigured following the completion of devolution on 12 April 2010. There is no longer a political directorate in the department. Details of
26 Oct 2010 : Column WA273
Prior to devolution, the political directorate in the Northern Ireland Office had the objective of supporting the Secretary of State on political matters in Northern Ireland. Details of staffing levels and expenditure of all departmental directorates were routinely recorded in the annual departmental reports, copies of which were laid in Parliament and are also published on the NIO's website at www.nio.gov.uk.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the median pension in payment for (a) civil servants, (b) NHS staff, (c) teachers, (d) university staff, (e) local government workers, (f) police officers, and (g) public workers overall; and what are the respective median lengths of service on which those pensions are based.[HL2666]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Treasury does not hold up-to-date data on the median pensions in payment or median lengths of service on which those pensions are based. However, table 1.0 of the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission's interim report, published on 7 October 2010, provides a breakdown of median figures for the largest public service pension schemes. The table can be found on the HM Treasury website at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/hutton_ pensionsinterim_071010.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in light of new rules concerning prisoner entitlements, they have made provision for claims for damage to health on the ground that new inmates will be given a "welcome pack" containing cigarettes.[HL2792]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): In public sector prisons in England and Wales new inmates are not given a welcome pack containing cigarettes. They are provided with the opportunity to purchase a reception pack on arrival. There is a choice of packs with options for smokers and non-smokers. Packs for smokers contain rolling tobacco and papers, but no cigarettes are offered. If a prisoner decides to purchase a reception pack including tobacco then this is their choice, and they must pay the recommended retail price for it using their own money.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to draft data disclosed by the Legal Services Commission to Refugee and Migrant Justice showing the number of asylum and immigration suppliers working in breach of the fixed fee margin key performance indicator, what was the total payment, excluding disbursements, for asylum cases paid by graduated fixed fee, made by the Commission to the group of suppliers in breach of the fixed fee margin KPI for their asylum work in the financial year 2009-10.[HL2570]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to draft data disclosed by the Legal Services Commission to Refugee and Migrant Justice showing the number of asylum and immigration suppliers working in breach of the fixed fee margin key performance indicator, what was the Commission's total payment, excluding disbursements, for all graduated fixed fee asylum cases in the financial year 2009-10.[HL2571]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to draft data disclosed by the Legal Services Commission to Refugee and Migrant Justice showing the number of asylum and immigration suppliers working in breach of the fixed fee margin key performance indicator, what was the total payment, excluding disbursements, for immigration cases paid by graduated fixed fee, made by the Commission to the group of suppliers in breach of the fixed fee margin KPI for their immigration work in the financial year 2009-10.[HL2572]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to draft data disclosed by the Legal Services Commission to Refugee and Migrant Justice showing the number of asylum and immigration suppliers working in breach of the fixed fee margin key performance indicator, what was the Commission's total payment, excluding disbursements, for all graduated fixed fee immigration cases in the financial year 2009-10.[HL2573]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to draft data disclosed by the Legal Services Commission to Refugee and Migrant Justice showing the number of asylum and immigration suppliers working in breach of the fixed fee margin key performance indicator for the financial year 2009-10, what was the total number of asylum matter starts allocated to the suppliers in breach of the fixed fee margin KPI for their asylum work as at 30 June 2010. [HL2574]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to draft data disclosed by the Legal Services Commission to Refugee and Migrant Justice showing the number of asylum and immigration suppliers working in breach of the fixed fee margin key performance indicator, for the financial year 2009-10, what was the total number of immigration matter starts allocated to suppliers in breach of the fixed fee margin for their immigration work as at 30 June 2010. [HL2575]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The 64 providers that were in breach of the fixed fee margin (FFM) KPI for asylum cases in 2009-10 were paid £3.01 million (less disbursements and VAT). £14.88 million was paid in 2009-10 (less disbursements and VAT) in graduated fees for asylum cases. The 54 providers that were in breach of the FFM KPI for immigration cases in 2009-10 were paid £3.97 million (less disbursements and VAT). £13.70 million was paid in 2009-10 (less disbursements and VAT) in graduated fees for immigration cases. 12,461 matter starts were allocated to the 64 asylum providers that were in breach of the FFM KPI for asylum cases in 2009-10. This number would not have wholly or even substantially been used for graduated fee matters and could have been used for hourly rate matters as well. 14,242 matter starts were allocated to the 54 immigration providers that were in breach of the FFM KPI for asylum cases in 2009-10. This number would not have wholly or even substantially been used for graduated fee matters and could have been used for hourly rate matters as well.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many children currently in the state education system in England are deaf or have serious hearing impairments; and how many of those have a statement of special education needs.[HL2736]
|Number of pupils(1)(2) in England that have a hearing impairment -January 2010|
|Number of pupils for whom primary type of need is hearing impairment(3)|
|Pupils stage of SEN assessment|
|School action plus||Statement of SEN||Total|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have had, or intend to have, discussions with the government of Turkey over the desirability of that country permitting gas pipelines to cross their territory carrying energy supplies, some of which may reach the United Kingdom.[HL2874]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Prime Minister committed to supporting progress towards a southern energy corridor through Turkey to the EU when he met the Turkish Prime Minister in July 2010. The Minister of State for Energy will reiterate this support when he meets the Turkish Energy Minister as part of the UK-Turkey Energy Dialogue in November 2010.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The only reliable international data on workless households are from Eurostat. Comparable data for the G20 and the G7 are not available.
|Proportion of persons aged 18-59 who are living in households where no-one works (%)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding has been allocated to the office of the United Nations Special Representative on Violence Against Children since May 2009 and what future funding they will allocate to this work within the United Nations.[HL2259]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The United Nations Special Representative on Violence Against Children and her office are funded through voluntary contributions. The UK does not contribute directly to this fund and has no confirmed plans to do so.
The UK provides considerable financial support to the UN's work on human rights. This is through our regular contribution to the United Nations budget and through our voluntary contribution to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Our voluntary contribution to the OHCHR totalled in excess of £2.5 million in each of 2008, 2009 and 2010.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 29 October (WA 265), by what criteria they judge there is a shortage of certain butchers, meat cutters, chefs and cooks sufficient to bring those trades on to the shortage occupation list for tier 2 of the points-based system for entry visas to the United Kingdom from non-European Union countries; and whether they will review those criteria.[HL2820]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) advises Government on shortage occupations. Meat cutters and chefs were included in the shortage occupation list under the previous Administration. The Government's consultation on the introduction of an annual limit on those admitted to work in the UK from outside the European Union-including the future of the shortage occupation list-closed in September. The Government will bring forward their proposals in due course.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 13 October (WA 83), whether they consider that the 2,812 certificates of sponsorship assigned to non-European Economic Area nationals for employment as medical practitioners under tier 2 of the points-based system in 2009, and the 1,423 certificates assigned in 2010 (January-June), suggest a shortage of doctors in the United Kingdom; and whether medical training capacity in universities will be reviewed.[HL2821]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The medical profession is internationally mobile and the number of non-United Kingdom trained doctors finding employment in the UK will vary by specialty and geography, reflecting service demands and the flows of UK doctors. The department is working with the UK Border Agency on its proposals to limit net migration to the UK.
There are no immediate plans for a review of medical training capacity in universities. Overall, the supply and demand for specialty training programmes appears to be well balanced and there are sufficient training opportunities to match the numbers coming through from foundation programmes.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether companies and educational institutions are given quotas of people they can hire from outside the
26 Oct 2010 : Column WA279
Baroness Neville-Jones: The work permit arrangements were replaced in November 2008 as part of the introduction of the points-based system (PBS). Since that time, employers have issued certificates of sponsorship to workers they wish to sponsor from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
The interim limit for tier 2 (general) has been set at 6 per cent below 2009 levels. In implementing the interim limit, the UK Border Agency reduced the number of certificates of sponsorship (CoS) available to each sponsor.
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